If These Walls Could Talk

In less than a week, we will be waking up in our new home, our unexpected new home for just one year, while we soul search about where to lay down roots.

I might have to force the family to do vision boards.

Goodbye to our first home as parents.

Seven years, three babies, 900 square feet.

Thank You, Lord, for watching over us, through the laughter and awe, through the screaming and tears.  ALL OF IT.  Only You knew the answers to all of our questions.

I waddled in here on September 28, 2010, with baby Micah in my womb.

Now we walk out as a family of five.  Grateful beyond belief.

What words

have smashed against
these walls,
crashed up and down these
halls,
lain mute and then drained
their meanings out and into
these floors?

What feelings, long since
dead,
streamed vague yearnings
below this ceiling
light?
In some dimension,
which I cannot know,
the shadows of
another still exist. I bring my
memories, held too long in check,
to let them here shoulder
space and place to be.

And when I leave to
find another house,
I wonder what among
these shades will be
left of me.

“The New House” by Maya Angelou

Kim_Family-269

6.24.17 (photo credit:  Keri Tan Photography)

Kim_Family-270

Kim_Family-149Kim_Family-13Kim_Family-69Kim_Family-72Kim_Family-150

That Robin Life

When we arrived at our annual retreat in NH last month, Ellis exclaimed that a mama robin was feeding her babies.  Since we were unpacking, we didn’t really hear him until we saw for ourselves, right outside our window:  these scrawny baby robins with their mouths open crazy wide, expectant for Mama Robin to drop juicy worms into them.

Perhaps this is a common sight in certain areas but for us living in Beep Beep Honk Honk NYC, it caught our breath.  We watched in amazement.  The birds’ beaks were open so comically wide it looked painful, almost 180 degrees.  They never doubted that their mom would return and drop in some sustenance.  They never said, “I ain’t no chump, opening my mouth like a fool.  I’mma front like I ain’t hungry and when she comes, THEN I’ll open up.”

I told Kevin:  I had no idea that the mom has to fly off as soon as she drops the worms into their beaks!  Why does she leave so quickly like she in witness protection?  Where is the dad?

“I don’t know.  I don’t have a PhD in Bird.  But yeah, I wonder why she has to leave so fast.”

We arrived Sunday afternoon.  We watched this family several times a day.  The scrawny birds grew up and their wet tufts started looking more like their red-chested Mom.  I teared up when the teen robins started practicing their hops and flying skills, their growing girth now overflowing out of their starter home nest.

And on Thursday, they were gone when we came back from the lake.  In the span of just four days, they had become completely independent!  Their empty nest of twigs was the only remnant left from their formative days outside our window, the nest that had been overflowing with four robin siblings, weighing down the tree branch.

It was an honor to watch their lives unfold.  It also made me think about praying expectantly, like those baby robins who cried out until their moms dropped worms into their beaks.  I want to cry out like them with bold confidence that I will be cared for.

I want to cry out like a baby robin for big things like our friend’s baby who needs God’s healing touch.  For small things, like moving with three young kids and no grandparents to ship them off to.

My Olive girl is no longer a newborn as she is more than two months old now, my baby-est robin.

I want to memorize the beaming smile that emerged at Week 8.  I want to remember yesterday’s discovery that she may hate her carseat in the car, like on the way to NH, but she’s down for taking a walk in the summer evening with a breeze softly caressing her chins, the very chins we can push to lure a smile out of.

I want to remember my 6 1/2 year old son’s new jack-o-lantern smile with his first missing tooth that he was so excited about.

I don’t want to forget my nearly five year old son’s earnestness, crying when I forgot to roll down the window in time for him to yell out a final goodbye to his summer camp teachers.

And how much they love their baby sister, asking if we can show her to their classmate playing in the courtyard or to their summer camp pastor.  Unpacking schoolwork that says, “I am thankful for pizza and my baby.”

Now that I’m 40, I feel life moving even faster.  I see why older folks nudge us to enjoy every moment.  My hair is greying even more swiftly, my teeth yellowing, my back aching, my kids talking like teenagers, and my baby outgrowing baby clothes she used to swim in.

The other day, I couldn’t drive home because another car was blocking a one-way street, trying to score a coveted parking space.  It took so long that drivers behind me were honking, one guy got out and tried to walk over to see whassup, Olive was crying in her sweaty carseat, Micah was updating me on each detail of Olive’s cry, and Ellis added, “I have to poo.”

I started laughing maniacally and actually bursted with tender gratitude for the moment.  This was my life, my Mama Robin life before my robins fly away.

FullSizeRender(65)IMG_6238IMG_6416IMG_6457IMG_6476FullSizeRender(66)

 

 

 

 

07.10.17 – Baby O is 6 weeks old

Baby Olive,

I am typing with you sprawled out on my thighs. Skin to skin.

Around five weeks old, you decided that napping in your bassinet was played out and you craved the warm body mattress of Mommy who is preoccupied with packing.

You grunt like crazy and you have one eye all Round Eye while the other eye is shut, so you look more like Popeye than Olive Oyl.  Daddy looked up “Olive Oyl” recently and we learned about her parents, (Ba)Nana Oyl and Cole Oyl.  And brother, Castor Oyl, who has an estranged wife, Cylinda Oyl!

Not only did you shed your stellar nap skills last week, you very particular about how we hold you.  You don’t want us to look at the phone.  You want us to cradle you, tuck you in an armpit or two, offer up a nipple pillow or Mommy’s still fuzzy belly, with its faint linea negra, a souvenir from pregnancy.

(Now I am nursing and trying to type with one hand because I miss writing).

Daddy and I just celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary on fwine date 07.07.17.  We were able to celebrate in style by going back to Bermuda.  Oh wait, that would be our next door neighbors, not us.

Daddy and Mommy happily spent our anniversary with you while brothers were away at summer camp.  You were our most valuable gift, your little legs with blue Mongol spots, and your nose with two little lines near the entrance of your nostrils, like the creases of a dumpling.  Your swiftly growing rolls make it easier for Mommy to handle you, less nervous than when you were only 5.5 lbs.

One of your first longer car outings was when you were about 15 days old.  We chose the farther, waterfront Costco we frequent when we want both ambience and value.  I felt like a first time mom when you were crying so much from your middle carseat that your brothers were giving us updates on the foaming of your mouth.  I made your dad pull over and we decided to skip the carnival we were going to also just “drop by.”  We are learning to slow down and Mommy especially is working on her fear of missing out.

Your dad doesn’t want you to be in certain enclosed spaces like house parties and our big church but he somehow rationalized Costco and the mall.

Anyways, when I went to change you at the Costco food court bathroom, I saw that someone had left a big turd for us on the changing table.  My fuzzy brain somehow told myself, “That surely must be a prop turd.  Who would be so foul as to leave a real, steaming turd for the next person?”  But why would there be an emoji prop turd?  Even more absurd.

I just remember being so embarrassed to introduce you to this grimy world outside of my womb, where people will leave their shit behind for you to deal with.  I tried to make up for it by showing you the water but it also looked like Law & Order SVU setting, some drunk topless men were fighting over the free soda they had scored, a teenager was passed out next to his bicycle and the bushes, and a couple was about to have sex in the front seat of their sedan.

Ok, this typing with you on me is ridiculous.  I just want to remember everything and blogging is a little more fun than journaling.  Peace out.  Time to fetch the brothers.  Olive You!

 

FullSizeRender(64).jpg

Tried to make up for the Costo turd by showing you the beauty of the sculpture garden next door but there were scary goat displays.  You were still so scrawny that it must have looked like we came straight from the hospital to Costco.  Mommy’s friend said I should have worn a hospital gown.  Realized that this Costco and sculpture garden were the first two places we headed to upon finding out I was pregnant – to load up on prenatal vitamins!

5.26.17 Clementine, a pre-birth story

Since the last post, we have officially become a family of five.  Thank You, Lord.

Our tiny Olive Hope Kim is already 12 days old today and just about 6 lbs after losing then gaining lotta ounces.  She was nearly Olive Poema Hope but a family vote knocked (my) choice out pretty much immediately though I campaigned for it after I heard a sermon on Ephesians 2 on our being God’s “Poiema,” God’s workmanship and masterpiece.

I also considered “Clementine” for a split second when I had to rush to the hospital two days before her birth, but the back story is just gross and not meaningful.  She is the only one of my kids who took me to the hospital before their official arrival.

I am itching to write for the sake of writing and sharing and feeling more myself, though some of this is while holding Olive.  I want to feel more balanced as I’ve been nursing ’round the clock and trying to catch up on sleep in short little spurts during the day.  Sleep deprivation is a beast especially after I’d been sleeping soundly for years.

I took the boys to get their hair cut yesterday when they were home for Chancellor’s Day, one of THREE days off from school this month of June.

FullSizeRender(62)FullSizeRender(61)

Their barbers were asking me details of how I want their hair to look and I loved that they cared enough to ask.  But I closed my eyes for longer than I had planned and said, “Can you please excuse me for a moment?  I haven’t been getting enough sleep so I can’t even answer the most basic of your questions.  Just one moment.  Please forgive.  Thank you.”

Where do I start?  Lemme back up to 5.26.17, Friday before Memorial weekend.

Micah had been home with me four out of five days that week, with a bad cough attack similar to what had landed him in the hospital nearly a year ago.  I felt bad for him as his cough shook his skinny little body but I confess I also felt sad that this possible final week of being pregnant was not as restful for me as I had daydreamed about.

I went to go use the bathroom while Micah coughed away on the couch.  When I wiped, a clementine-sized sac protruded from me.  Though I knew it was NOT the baby’s head as i was in no pain, I completely freaked out and started crying, imagining myself on a reality show, Geriatric Multigravida Gives Birth in Co-op Toilet While Son on Nebulizer.

I called my doctor and the nurse told me not to get up.  But how could I not.  I had to pack for hospital and get someone to come over.

I called my friend, our emergency contact that God had provided.  My biggest fear of going into labor was that no one could take care of my big kids especially if I had to go in the middle of the night.  Our friends graciously and gladly offered their help, a true answer to prayer.

I got Micah’s albuterol treatment started as my friend rushed over.  Her husband was ready to pick up Ellis from pre-K later that afternoon.  I was beyond grateful for these helping hands that allowed me to get to the hospital without worrying about my boys.

Once I got to the hospital, the nurses asked me lots of questions.  I told them that all morning, I felt something different down there, almost like I was sprouting a penis.  I kept telling them it was a clementine sized flesh sac/water balloon that decided to hang out when I was on the toilet.  The nurses tried to make me re-enact what happened but the clementine hid itself.  They also told me that my descriptions were disturbing and terrifying.

Since they could not figure out what happened, I was discharged.  They said even if they had figured out exactly what was protruding, the baby was doing fine and there was no reason for me to stay in the hospital.

They advised that next time, I take a picture of the clementine.  I berated myself for not doing that in the first place.  Kevin assured me that I was normal and not a perverted sicko, to not think of taking a picture of my privates during that alarming moment.

So that is the story of how 5.26.17 was an alarming day leading up to her actual birthday.  We ended it happily eating Chinese food with our dear emergency contacts, not knowing that baby would be arriving within 48 hours.

IMG_4136

 

 

 

 

“Immeasurably More…” – Mother’s Day 2017

Mother’s Day 2017 started out with the boys scurrying around with their homemade cards and origami flowers while I enjoyed a prolonged snuggle with my Snoogle, our old pregnancy pillow that we miraculously didn’t throw out over the years because Kevin liked it for himself.

The boys presented me with their bounty and also did their Mother’s Day choreography to Boyz II Men’s “Mama you Know I Love You,” directed by Daddy since 2015.  Kevin made me a veggie omelette, which Ellis also nibbled on.

Micah’s one gift was a handmade heart that said, “I love you so much it’s as easy as drawing a heart.”  He also added, “And you’re also easy to draw, Mommy, because I’m good at drawing fat people now.”

We went to church and all the adult females were gifted with a single pink carnation.  Ellis asked, “But Mommy, why you take the flower when you said we can’t buy you any kind of plant because then you have to take care of it?”

Pastor Rich Villodas spoke from Ephesians 3:20:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Now he pointed out that though many focus on “immeasurably more” as in blessings in our personal lives, the passage is actually referring to how God can bring opposing groups together, immeasurably more than we ever imagined.

But I was marinating in the “immeasurably more” as in more blessed than I’d ever imagined.  There were two times in my life where I struggled with a debilitating depression.

While in the pit, I informed my parents that fine, I will stay alive because I have to but that I won’t ever thrive in this here life.  Sorry for being so broken and such a burden but you guys will have to take care of me for the rest of my life because of the darkness I just can’t emerge from.  As a parent now, I think about how devastating that would be to hear from your child who “should” be having a blast in those much anticipated college years.

Talk about immeasurably more than I ever imagined.  Despite those earlier dark times and even tough times in more recent years as we struggled in our marriage, here I was, sitting in the balcony at my colorful church in Queens, NYC, with a bonus baby in my belly, my two sons who crack me up daily, and a husband who just may be the Most Reviled husband for making others look bad.

But I have to put myself on blast as the day took a different turn.  I swear I was thinking about my Immeasurably More Blessed status even as we drove to Brooklyn for the Mother’s Day Brunch that Kevin had reserved.

On the way there, Ellis warned us he was getting carsick so we parked very far from the restaurant to get him some fresh air.  Whew, vomit averted.  We walked many blocks to the restaurant.  One block before the restaurant, Ellis gagged and bent over, vomiting onto the sidewalk, like a little man hungover.  Passersby commented, “Aww poor kid.”

As far as vomit goes, this was ideal.  Sidewalk vomit, only a mild spittle on my shoes.

I don’t know if my bad attitude started brewing then but once I saw the set menu, I went from basking in my Immeasurably More Blessed status to griping for Immeasurably More than the limited fancy egg or samich on the menu.  I still don’t know how I went from beyond grateful to pissed off so fast.

I started getting crabby as the boys fought over the phone, which I had hoped would not have made its appearance but Kevin was worried about Ellis’ stomach so he thought it’d be a good distraction.  Then I noticed all this glassware on the table that no one else seemed to be mindful of while I could picture spills in slow motion.

No kids’ menu so they were gonna have to order same overpriced egg or samich from the adult set menu.  The waiter said he would bring the kids some pistachio ice cream for their dessert later and because we were harried, we both said, “Yum.”  Then I called him back to say, “Oops, he’s allergic.”

My attitude spiraled down from there, as I thought, “Man, I wanted to just tag along today.  Clearly, I can’t just be passive for one day.  Mama still has to be hyper-vigilant.”  Again, unfair since Kevin totally holds it down so that I can mostly be passive.

Ellis remarked, “Mommy, you MEAN on Mother’s Day.”

I just wanted to confess this Mother’s Day attitude that I later apologized for.  I dunno if it was the hyped up holiday or my hormones, but even at my most grateful, I jacked up AGAIN.  I might have stayed up too late the night before, finally trying to catch “Catastrophe” with Kevin, or I just had too high expectations, unbeknownst to me.

After I apologized, I asked Kevin to not surprise me next year as his veggie omelette was way better than the $40 egg I had at Glassware Galore Restaurant.  He reminded me that last year I had requested brunch ambience aka White Papple ambience, so that is why he chose this place but that next year, I can chime in since my cravings are ever-changing.

Anyone else’s Mother’s Day take a topsy turvy turn?

FullSizeRender(59)

FullSizeRender(60)

At least the $40 egg included homemade cinnamon donuts with caramel sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

Watch the Sky

The other day, I took a quick solo drive to the out-of-town public library to grab Micah some more difficult chapter books per his request.  Our local library is closed for repairs and due to parking issues, I prefer driving out of town anyhow, especially if I get to do it alone.

No work, no doctor appointments, no urgent tasks to complete other than purging before another (mini) family member joins.  Not having to rush from point A to point B or respond to urgent emails, running no other errand than the library run was rejuvenating.

I admired the spring flowers on our block as I walked to fetch our car.

Minutes later, I was driving on the highway with zero traffic, sun shining bright, when this ditty came on the radio:

If you wanna go and take a ride wit me
We three-wheelin in the fo’ with the gold D’s
Oh why do I live this way? (Hey, must be the money!)

HEY!  Must be the money!  I could imagine my girlfriends from two decades ago riding with me, turning up the volume and laughing.  Even in present day mini-van with our garish McDonald’s Happy Meal emoji hanging from our rearview mirror, I felt 20-something and extra grateful for the day.

Grateful for breath, my life and the life pop-lockin’ inside of me.  Grateful for the sudden surge of energy this week, after last week’s sluggishness where I would just have the kids gather ’round me in my bed.  Then another great song came on:

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean.
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I’m calling.
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.
And You’ve told me who I am.
I am Yours, I am Yours.

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again?
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?

Life truly is about the simple things.  A solo drive.  No traffic.  Two great songs on the radio.

The night before, I needed to konk out after staying up too late to review some boring, time-sensitive documents (adult life).  I could have drifted into dreamland right then but I felt jipped of my sacred, quiet time after kids had gone to bed.  So I left my lamp on so that I could read just one exquisite short story from my new library book.  I reread certain passages and it was time well spent.  It felt like a square of fine dark chocolate or hot red tea after a meal.  Recalibrated my brain.

This reminds me to add a simple joy to my day in the raw postpartum days to come, when hormones are off from nursing while adjusting to the new normal of a helpless little babe completely dependent on me.

My parents did not appear to value self-care.  They believed that they could not afford to, that it was a wasteful luxury just for the unencumbered upper crust folks with margins in their lives.  Or maybe that’s what they told themselves as it was too painful to admit even to themselves that they could use some sweet time just to exhale and enjoy life.

I don’t fault them for this way of thinking as they had to work as much as possible to pay for life’s necessities.  They didn’t get to collect a paycheck from some air-conditioned office.

I used to follow my parents’ standards as an excuse for why I, too, thought self-care was fluffy and for folks who weren’t diligent and hard-working enough.  I went so far as to judge those who prioritized self-care in a way that was foreign to me, coming from my background.

“Another massage?  Another date night?  Didn’t you just come back from vacation?  How ’bout you take a break from taking a break?”  But now I see that my parents would have fared better had they not just worked all the time, had they somehow carved out small pockets of leisure.

When my mom owned a small gift shop in Panorama City, CA, working at least six days a week, ten hours a day, she would comment that the moment she heated up her lunch, customers would barge in.  And nine out of ten times, these would be annoying customers, those who would ask the price of her whole inventory with their eagle eyes and too many extended family members in tow, and then leave without a single purchase.  This is why to this day, I don’t like going into someone’s small business or vendor booth just to look, chitchat, or merely compliment an item without buying.

My mom would sometimes feel chained to her store. Once, when I was in high school and visiting the store, she sighed and said, “Sometimes, I wish I could just run across the street and lie down on that patch of grass, just roll around and look at the sky.”

I now wish I had insisted that she do just that.  Go right on across Roscoe Blvd., Umma, and lie down on that patch of grass in front of the old drive-in movie theater.  Exhale.  Watch the sky.  Watch the clouds drift.  Grab a cold beverage.  Think about something that makes you laugh.  I got you.

I remembered this when I was in Bryant Park last summer, and I purposely lie down on the grass in the middle of my day.  A homeless man was to my left, damp green grass under me, and the blue sky above me.

I am going to create more “Watch the Sky” moments.  Priceless.

IMG_3825

We are not to walk on the courtyard grass but I just had to get close to these beauties.  They looked like they were made of pink Kleenex.

IMG_3826

I mean, they were bigger than my kids’ faces.  Nature is astounding.

Diverted by Marshawn Lynch

It’s May 1st!  A brand new month.  Exciting month ahead for our family.  Hopefully, baby won’t arrive this month as this is the month prior to the expected due date.  I take “due date” with a grain of salt as both boys arrived early.  May will be filled with lots of anticipation, checklists, doc appointments and hopefully rest, too.  During Sunday service, I couldn’t keep the tears from flowing from my jaw down to my clothes as I *still* can’t believe that I get to do this all over again.

On a TOTALLY different note:  I relate to Larry David’s character on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” way too much.  I recognize that so much of what I sweat is “small stuff” but I had a lightbulb moment last week.  I sometimes want to pause on the trifling happenings of life to allow my mind to drift from the actual meaty stuff:  adult decisions and responsibilities.

Flashback to last Wednesday at my o.b. appointment.  I take the elevator to the 11th floor with just one other person.  The man seems restless and preoccupied as he tries to exit the elevator unchivalrously before me, practically clipping me, so in true Larry David fashion, I maneuver my girth so that I can exit before him.

I sit down in the waiting room and look all around at the Upper East side patients and think, “So boojie, mmm.  So much privilege up in here.  Blech!”  (And yes, I know that I am at least partly one of them as much as I try to claim “Other.”)  That is when I notice that the man from the elevator is talking to the receptionist and soon, addressing the large waiting room:

“Excuse me.  Someone here got a ride from me and did not pay me.  Who was it?  Who took a ride from me and did not pay me?”

Everyone peered down at their precious phones as if they were Cinderella’s Magic Mirror revealing the future, and ignored him completely.  He repeated the announcement:

“Someone here did not pay me after they got a ride from me.  Who was it?”

People continued to ignore him.  While his announcement made folks uncomfortable, it was not delivered in a scary manner.  He was just a brown man trying to get paid for his services, hunting down his boojie customer who stole from him.

I started feeling my emotional buttons getting pushed from this man being completely ignored, even though I knew nothing about the customer and whether she was privileged and wealthy, taking advantage of the cab driver.

I responded loud enough for him and the room to hear:  “Sorry, man.  I took the subway here so it wasn’t me.  Good luck!”

He walked out of our waiting room to the adjoining doctor’s office, presumably to make the same announcement.  The man just needed to get paid and I felt for him.  I also flashbacked to when customers stole from my parents.

The second he left, one of the phone-staring ignorers, an older White lady, promptly got up out of her seat to tattle to the receptionist, “He didn’t go downstairs.  He just went to the next office.”  So the receptionist had to act as security to tell him that he must raise up and wait in the lobby, not here in the doctors’ offices.

Just then, a White husband who had his pregnant wife’s feet on his lap the whole time, exclaimed, while still staring at his phone:  “What!?  Marshawn Lynch…!”

He and his wife were called to be seen by the doctor and I noticed he had on a blazer with elbow patches.  I judged some more.

As a post-doctor appointment treat, Kevin and I met for lunch.  I told him about how incensed I felt when everyone ignored the cab driver in our boojie waiting room.  Kevin said that he, too, would have ignored the guy because he didn’t take no ride from him.  Kevin laughed and said, “Maybe you responded because you felt like you had to defend yourself since you always have to explain yourself?”

I explained, “No, I responded because he deserved to be heard by SOMEONE, even though I wasn’t the fare-jacker.  And guess what?  When I saw the older White lady report him after ignoring him the whole time and then that Elbow Patch exclaiming about Marshawn Lynch?!  I got all crazy inside.  I wanted to go fight him and say, ‘If Marshawn Lynch drove a cab and asked you boojies if someone made off without paying him, you would totally ignore his ass too if he were a nameless man of color.  But because he Marshawn Lynch, you dare to exclaim his name while seated here amongst the pregnants.  Man, shut up!  Don’t ever utter Marshawn name again, Elbow Patches!”

“And then, I started Googling ‘Marshawn Lynch’ instead of looking up the checklist for what this particular o.b. appointment should entail.  I think I just like diversions, the more trifling the better!”

All this to say that everyone has their coping mechanisms.  When seated in front of my husband to discuss Adult Decisions, I suddenly had to talk about Marshawn Lynch outburst.  When we have to make important decisions, Kevin becomes more logical and focused and can’t be bothered with the trifling.  I subconsciously seek out tangents and treasure troves of trifling to take a breather from the adult ish.  What is your funky way of coping with adult life?

FullSizeRender(57)

So, Jihee, where do you want to raise our kids?  And you must decide by the end of lunch…

FullSizeRender(58)

I need to tell you what happened in the waiting room today.